There is no wifi to be found in Togo right now. I waited to write this blog post for while I’m in Lome at the PCV work station, but there isn’t any wifi here so I am writing this on my phone so I have to put all the photos in randomly, sorry about that!
At the last in service training several PCVs came to me about wanting to start community led sanitation in their villages or they had tried to, but the rains had washed away their latrines. I created a guide to CLTS for the volunteers and developed a plan with another PCV, Paige, to do a tour de poop shaming au Nord.
We traveled up to Savanes, the northern most region of Togo on the Burkia Faso border. As you would expect it is much hotter and drier up there as it is much closer the the Sahara desert. Worst heat rash of my life, also hook worm is a good time.
I took a 12 hour bus ride up from Lome, one of the scariest transportation experiences of my life as the bus was over taking cars and huge lorrys, at one point we took over a motorcycle as another car took over a motorcycle coming in the other direction and to avoid a head on collision the car flipped off the road, down into an embankment. The driver got out of the car and seemed to be fine, but seriously no wonder transportation accidents are one of the leading causes of death in Togo.
Once I made it up to Barkossi, a large village in Southern savanes we got organized for the 4 days of trainings in 4 villages. The trainings went very well in each village, there was great discussion and involvement in creating the maps. We made the ‘find the poop’ into a games like an Easter egg hunt where the first person to find where someone has open defecated gets a prize. (What is my life?) It was a great week an each village has been excited to start building latrines since we left with the help of the PCVs from their village.
The ethnic group, Moba, built these amazing caves that we hiked up to. There is currently a PCV living on top of the mountain who gave us a tour and was an excellent host while we were there. He told us that there was a civil war between the Moba and theTchkossi. The German colonizers used this to their adantage and gave guns to the Tchkossi to round up the Moba to bring down to the coast and sell in the slave trade. To hide the Moba built these caves in the side of the mountain were they created these mud pots to hold millet and other food stores as well as poisoned arrows. There’s even a small spring that supplies water year round and a plant that grows around the spring that is a natural water purifier. To get the the caves we climbed down this rebar ladder, but the Moba used to climb down vines to get into the caves. It was an incredible experience to have seen the slave castles in Ghana all the way to the caves in Northern Togo. Alongside having grown up in North Carolina where slaves worked cotton and tobacco plantations. Such a horrible history, that has shaped the racial discrimination that continues in America today.
Tomorrow I am going to Senegal for a malaria conference! So more to come soon!